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Aggregate is unloaded from a freight train at Washwood Heath
Aggregate is unloaded from a freight train at Washwood Heath

Washwood Heath train depot and control centre

Washwood Heath Depot will be HS2’s central control centre and maintenance depot, which will create around 500 long-term jobs in Birmingham’s Washwood Heath.

At the site, a specialist contractor will work with HS2 Ltd to transform the 30 hectare brown field site into the nerve centre of the HS2 network.  From this point, next to the main line into Birmingham Curzon Street, HS2’s fleet of state-of-the-art high-speed trains will be serviced and maintained, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – ready to provide an unparalleled level of frequency and reliability for passengers across the UK.

The depot will include a 40,000 m2 Rolling Stock Maintenance Building, Carriage Wash, Automatic Vehicle Inspection Building and 14 sidings where trains can be stored overnight.

Also on the same site will be the Network Integrated Control Centre, the centre of the network’s state-of-the-art signalling and control systems as well as office buildings for cleaners and drivers.

Once operational, Phase One and 2a will have a fleet of at least 54 trains which will be based at Washwood Heath. These 200m long units can be doubled up to create 400m long trains and will serve destinations beyond the HS2 network – like Liverpool, Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow – via a connection to the existing West Coast Main Line at Crewe.

HS2 Ltd launched a search for a specialist contractor to build the Washwood Heath train depot and control centre in February 2021.  Bidders are expected to be shortlisted for the single-stage design and build contract in the summer with contract award in 2023.

HS2 announces shortlist for Washwood Heath train depot and network control centre

HS2 Ltd today confirmed the shortlist of bidders in the running to build the high speed rail project’s network control centre and rolling stock maintenance depot, which will create around 500 long-term jobs in Birmingham’s Washwood Heath.

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Design engagement

The buildings in the depot will be designed and constructed to meet BREEAM excellent standards.

The design intent for the overall site seeks to enhance social and environmental benefits for the surrounding community, provide an enhanced visual appearance for the area and improve west – east connectivity. A transition zone between the depot site and the surrounding communities will be established seeking to provide a smooth boundary wherever possible, public parking outside the security fence, sustainable drainage systems, flood risk mitigation, noise mitigation and visual screening.


The first rail freight delivery arrived at Washwood Heath site in August 2020

In August 2020, the first rail freight delivery of aggregate arrived at HS2’s Washwood Heath site in Birmingham, signalling the start of HS2’s major programme to take up to 1.5 million lorries off the roads to cut carbon emissions.

Over the next decade, up to 15,000 freight trains will haul 10 million tonnes of aggregate to HS2 construction sites. Each freight train replaces around 70 lorries, representing a massive reduction in carbon emissions and marking a significant investment for Britain’s rail freight sector.

The Washwood Heath Railhead site, managed by HS2’s main works civils joint venture Balfour Beatty VINCI, took the first delivery from HS2 preferred aggregates supplier Rail Stone Solutions (RSS) and their rail haulage partner GB Railfreight.

At Washwood Heath, 10 trains per week will each bring around 1,500 tonnes of aggregate supplied by RSS, which will be used to construct a large piling platform for the Bromford tunnel approaches, railway embankments, as well as haul roads around the site, which helps to limit the amount of vehicles on the public highway.

Other sites include HS2’s Rail Logistics Hub at Willesden which will welcome up to eight freight trains a day.

Delivering materials by rail rather than road

HS2 has been working with Network Rail for a number of years to ensure that capacity on the rail network is available for HS2’s contractors to deliver their requirements by rail rather than road.

Demolition complete at the Washwood Heath Depot site

The Washwood Heath site was formerly home to the disused Metro-Cammell railway works which closed in 2004. A team from HS2’s early works contractor LM, completed the demolition of the buildings on the site last year, ready for the start of construction.

Demolition in progress at Washwood Heath, July 2019
Demolition in progress at Washwood Heath, July 2019